Address on Protection of the Environment

John Paul II Calls for a Conversion in Use of Goods

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2002 ( Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today before reciting the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. On this second Sunday of November, a Day of Thanksgiving is being observed in Italy, promoted by the National Confederation of Farmers. It is beautiful and proper to thank God for the gifts received in the course of the year and to be thankful to the men and women who reap them from the earth with their work. Farmers, often hardly acknowledged in industrial societies, instead merit common appreciation for the essential service they render to the entire human family.

The protection of creation is a commitment for which all must feel responsible. As the Italian bishops wrote in their message, «we must never forget that the earth belongs to God, though put in man’s hands to govern it (see Genesis 1:28)» (No. 1). For this reason, a radical cultural change is necessary: There must be a «conversion» from the indiscriminate use of resources to a responsible administration of the goods offered to us by creation.

2. The United Nations declared 2002 the «Year of the Mountain.» Today’s Day of Thanksgiving, therefore, is directed in a particular way to the realm of mountains, and to the splendid gift that it represents for man. Mountains are always able to fascinate the human spirit, to the point of being considered in the Bible as the privileged place for encountering God. So they become the symbol of man’s ascent to the Creator.

However, mountains are not just places of rest and vacation: For many people they are the realm of daily effort, endured not rarely in solitude and isolation. Mountains are the patrimony of all, and must be respected, loved and carefully protected by all. They are, in fact, a common good, whose integrity is precious for the whole of humanity.

3. How many times, while walking through mountainous paths, we come across little churches or niches dedicated to Mary. From on high the Virgin Mother watches silently over her children.

This Sunday’s Gospel (see Matthew 25:1-13) suggests to us that we recognize in her the «wise Virgin,» model of the vigilant Church awaiting the glorious return of Christ. We now invoke her with confidence, so that she will help us to be wise administrators of all riches and resources of nature.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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